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Cambodia

Getting there & away

Travel documents

Passport

Not only is a passport essential but you also need to make sure that it’s valid for at least six months beyond the end of your trip – Cambodian immigration will not issue a visa if you have less than six months’ validity left on your passport.

It’s also important to make sure that there is plenty of space left in your passport. Do not set off on a six-month trek across Asia with only two blank pages left – a Cambodian visa alone takes up one page. It is sometimes possible to have extra pages added to your passport, but most people will be required to get a new passport. This is possible for most foreign nationals in Cambodia, but it can be time consuming and costly, as many embassies process new passports in Bangkok.

Losing a passport is not the end of the world, but it is a serious inconvenience. To expedite the issuing of a new passport, keep a copy of your passport details somewhere separate from your passport.

Tickets

When buying airline tickets, it is always worth shopping around. Buying direct from the airline is usually more expensive, unless the airline has a special promotion. As a rule, it is better to book as early as possible, as prices only get higher as the seats fill up.

The time of year has a major impact on flight prices. Starting out from Europe, North America or Australia, figure on prices rising dramatically over Christmas and between July and August, and dropping significantly during lax periods of business like February, June and October.

Thailand is the most convenient gateway to Cambodia when travelling from outside the region. In Bangkok, the Banglamphu area, especially Khao San Rd, is a good place to buy tickets to Cambodia. Those who are travelling into Cambodia by air through Vietnam can easily pick up tickets in Ho Chi Minh City.

When buying tickets in Cambodia, the biggest agents are in Phnom Penh, although many now operate branch offices in Siem Reap. Agents can normally save you a few dollars on the airline price, much more for long-haul flights or business-class seats.

To research and buy a ticket on the internet, try these services:

Cheapflights (www.cheapflights.com) No-frills website with a number of locations.

Lonely Planet (www.lonelyplanet.com) Use the Trip Planner service to book multistop trips.

OneTravel (www.onetravel.com) Another website with a number of locations.

Travel.com (www.travel.com) This website also has numerous locations.

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Water

River

There is a river border crossing between Cambodia and Vietnam on the banks of the Mekong. There are regular fast passenger boats plying the route between Phnom Penh and Chau Doc in Vietnam, via the Kaam Samnor–Vinh Xuong border crossing. There are also a couple of luxurious river boats ­running all the way to the temples of Angkor in Cambodia. There is also a river crossing on the Mekong border with Laos, although most travellers use the road these days.

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Land

For years overland travellers were restricted to entering or exiting Cambodia at the Bavet–Moc Bai border crossing with Vietnam. However, lots of new land crossings between Cambodia and its neighbours have opened, offering overland connections with Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. However, many of the newly opened borders are in relatively off-the-beaten path destinations and are aimed at promoting trade more than serving tourists. For the latest on Cambodian border crossings, check out the Immigration Department website at cambodia-immigration.com.

Bus

It is possible to use buses to cross into Cambodia from Thailand or Vietnam. The most popular way to or from Vietnam is a cheap bus via Bavet on the Cambodian side and Moc Bai in Vietnam. From Thailand, many travellers take the nightmare ‘scam bus’ from Bangkok to Siem Reap via the PoipetAranya Prathet border crossing.

Car & motorcycle

Car drivers and motorcycle riders will need registration papers, insurance documents and an International Driving Licence to bring vehicles into Cambodia. It is complicated to bring in a car, but relatively straightforward to bring in a motorcycle, as long as you have a carnet de passage (vehicle passport). This acts as a temporary import-duty waiver and should save a lot of hassles when dealing with Cambodian customs. Increasing numbers of international bikers are crossing into Cambodia, while most of the foreign cars that tend to make it are Thai-registered.

Border crossings

Cambodia shares one border crossing with Laos, six crossings with Thailand and eight with Vietnam. Visas are now available at all the land crossings with Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.

There are now international ATMs near the Cham Yeam and Poipet borders with Thailand. However, at the rest of the borders, there are very few money-changing facilities at any of these crossings, so be sure to have some small-denomination US dollars handy or baht if crossing from Thailand. The black market is also an option for local currencies – Vietnamese dong, Lao kip and Thai baht. Remember that black marketeers have a well-deserved reputation for short-changing and outright theft.

Cambodian immigration officers at the land border-crossings have a bad reputation for petty extortion. Travellers are occasionally asked for an ‘immigration fee’ of some kind, particularly when entering or exiting via the Lao border. Other scams include overcharging for the visa in Thai baht (anywhere between 1000B and 1200B instead of 700B) and forcing tourists to change US dollars into riel at a poor rate. Hold your breath, stand your ground, don’t start a fight and remember that not all Cambodians are as mercenary as the men in blue.

Senior government officials in Phnom Penh are trying to crack down on overcharging for visas and general petty extortion at the borders, as it gives Cambodia a bad image. In order to help bring an end to this, we suggest you ask for the name of any official demanding extra money at the border and mention you will pass it on to the Ministers of Interior and Tourism.

Laos

Cambodia and Laos share a remote frontier that includes some of the wildest areas of both countries. There is only one border crossing open to foreigners and given the remoteness of the region, it is unlikely any more will open in the near future.

Dom kralor–voen kham

The border between Cambodia and Laos is officially open from 7am to 5pm daily. It is very popular as an adventurous and cheap way to combine travel to northeastern Cambodia and southern Laos. On the Cambodian side of the border, there are confusingly two possible places to cross the border: one on the river (Koh Chheuteal Thom) and one on the old road from Stung Treng (Dom Kralor). Few travellers use the original Koh Chheuteal Thom crossing as the speedboats to Stung Treng are overpriced. More prefer to travel by minibus via the road border at Dom Kralor.

To enter Cambodia using this route, visas are available on arrival. Those exiting Cambodia for Laos should arrange a Lao visa in advance in Phnom Penh. Both sides of the border seem to charge an overtime fee for those crossing at lunch time or after dark, although the exact sum (usually US$1 to US$5) depends on gentle but persuasive bargaining.

To leave Cambodia, travel to the remote town of Stung Treng. From Stung Treng there are regular minibuses (US$5 per person) heading north to the border. Longtail rocket boats (US$30 for the boat, US$5 per person, one hour) can be chartered up the Mekong and take up to six people.

The road crossing is more straightforward, as on the Mekong, Cambodian immigration is on the west bank and Lao immigration is on the east bank. Once in Voen Kham in Laos, there are outboards running up to the island of Don Khone (US$5, 20 minutes), although they drop you on the wrong side of the island, as they can’t traverse the falls.

Those heading further north can take a motorcycle taxi for about US$5 to Nakasong, where it is possible to arrange a boat to Don Det or Don Khone, or arrange a jamboh (three-wheeled motorcycle taxi) on to Hat Xai Khun for the boat across to Don Khong.

Coming to Cambodia from Laos, the options outlined above can be run in reverse. The cheapest way is to take one of the dirt-cheap boat trips advertised on Don Khone and Don Khong, costing just a few dollars, which include the waterfalls and dolphin viewing. Once you get back to Voen Kham from viewing the dolphins, jump ship and arrange a seat in a Cambodian taxi or minibus, costing about US$5 to Stung Treng. There are also plenty of Cambodian outboards hanging around the dock at Voen Kham for the run to Stung Treng, but they seem to have fixed the price at US$10 per person, which is double what it costs to travel in the other direction.

Thailand

Cambodia and Thailand share a lengthy border and there are now six legal international border crossings, and many more options for locals. Land borders with Thailand are open from 7am to 8pm daily. Tourist visas are available at all crossings for US$20. There are now clear signs displaying the US$20 charge, but many people are still charged 1000B. For the latest sagas on land crossings between Thailand and Cambodia, visit www.talesofasia.com.

Poipet–aranya prathet

The original land border crossing between Cambodia and Thailand has earned itself a bad reputation in recent years, with scams galore to help tourists part with their money. The ‘scam bus’ promoted on Khao San Rd in Bangkok is now legendary throughout Asia, but many travellers still succumb to the charms of cheap tickets.

There are two slow trains a day from Hualamphong train station in Bangkok to the Thai border town of Aranya Prathet (48B, six hours); take the 5.55am service unless you want to spend the night in a border town. There are also regular bus services from Bangkok’s Mo Chit northern terminal to Aranya Prathet (200/160B 1st/2nd class, four to five hours). From Aranya Prathet, take a tuk tuk (motorised three-wheeled pedicab) for the final six kilometres to the border for about 80B.

Avoid the touts when crossing into Cambodia and don’t listen to any offers of help securing a visa. Once across, try not to get roped into the ‘free’ tourist shuttle to the ‘Tourist Lounge’. This place arranges transport to major cities, but at inflated prices: Phnom Penh (US$15, seven to eight hours); Siem Reap (US$10, five hours); Battambang (US$8, 2½ hrs). Stick solo and walk to the bus company offices for cheaper fares. Almost all buses run by all the companies depart very early in the morning (before 8am). It is also possible to negotiate taxis if you can avoid the taxi mafia. Try to pay no more than US$40 to Siem Reap or US$30 to Battambang. Finally, there is the independent option of climbing aboard a pick-up truck hanging out in front of the market near the central roundabout. It’s just 50B for a spot in the back to Sisophon from where there is onward transport to Battambang or Siem Reap.

The road to Siem Reap is still unsurfaced and gets very, very ugly during the wet season. It should be the number one priority for trade and tourism, and it should finally be rebuilt over the next few years.

Leaving Cambodia, it is easy enough to get to Poipet from Siem Reap, Battambang or even Phnom Penh. By land there is no departure tax to leave Cambodia. From Poipet, take a tuk tuk to Aranya Prathet, from where there are regular buses to Bangkok between 4am and 10pm or the slow train at 1.55pm.

Cham yeam–hat lek

The Cham Yeam–Hat Lek border crossing between Cambodia’s Krong Koh Kong and Trat in Thailand is popular with travellers linking the beaches of Cambodia and Thailand.

Coming from Bangkok, take a bus to Trat (210B, five to six hours) from the city’s Eastern bus station. Buses depart regularly from 6am until 11.30pm. The 11.30pm bus arrives in Trat early enough to get to Krong Koh Kong in time to catch the 8am fast boat to Sihanoukville. Another convenient option for travellers staying in the Khao San Rd area is to take one of the minibuses bound for Koh Chang, getting off at Trat.

From Trat, take a minibus straight to the Thai border at Hat Lek for 110B. The border opens at 7am so it is possible to stay the night in Trat and, with an early enough start, still make the boat to Sihanoukville – but it’s tight. Alternatively, cross later in the day and stay the night in Krong Koh Kong and see the waterfalls and islands around there. Once on the Cambodian side of the border you can take a moto (motorcycle with driver; 50B plus 11B toll) or taxi (200B plus 44B toll) to Krong Koh Kong.

Fast boats from Krong Koh Kong to Sihanoukville (US$20 for foreigners, four hours) leave at 8am and depart Sihanoukville at 9.30am when heading in the other direction. A word of warning: the sea can be dangerously rough at times and these boats were designed for river travel, not sailing the open seas! From Sihanoukville there are cheap air-con buses to Phnom Penh.

It is also possible to travel by road from Krong Koh Kong to Phnom Penh or Sihanoukville. Virak Buntham and Rith Mony run bus and minibus services to both cities (300B) every morning, or negotiate with a share taxi. It should be 400B for a seat to either destination, but it is probably worth buying two seats for comfort. The road is now surfaced with four new bridges, bringing journey times – and prices – down dramatically.

Leaving Cambodia, take either a taxi or moto across the bridge to the border from Krong Koh Kong. Once in Thailand, catch a minibus to Trat from where there are regular buses to Bangkok. Alternatively, stay the night in Trat and then head to Ko Chang or the surrounding islands the following day.

Other crossings

Several more out of the way crossings are open for international traffic. The O Smach–Chong Jom crossing connects Cambodia’s Oddar Meanchey Province and Thailand’s Surin Province with Siem Reap, but it is very remote. There are five buses per day from Surin to Chong Jom (30B, two hours). Once on the Cambodian side, you can head to Samraong on a miserable road by moto (250B, one hour) or private taxi (1200B, almost two hours), and arrange local transport from there on to Siem Reap. There is no public transport east to Anlong Veng or southwest to Banteay Chhmar.

The Choam–Choam Srawngam crossing, 16km north of Anlong Veng on unexpected paved road, puts you into a pretty remote part of Thailand and hence transport connections are, for once, harder on the Thai side. Pick-up trucks (3000/2000r inside/on the back) leave Anlong Veng early, heading to the Cambodian border town of Choam from 6am. Alternatively, charter a moto (10, 000r) or a taxi (US$20). Once on the Thai side, there are several onward buses a day, but they are quite spaced out. Coming in the other direction from Thailand, the closest major town is Si Saket. From Si Saket there are several buses that make the journey each day to the border. Note that from Anlong Veng there is no public transport east to Prasat Preah Vihear or west to Samraong.

The border near Pailin, 102km southwest of Battambang, is open for business as well. Some foreigners are unexpectedly crossing the border at Psar Pruhm–Ban Pakard, courtesy of the ‘scam bus’. To travel this way independently, take a bus from Bangkok to Chantaburi (160B, four hours) and then a minibus from there to Ban Pakard (150B, 1½ hours). Cross the Cambodian border into the casino area and then arrange a share taxi into Pailin (300B for the whole car, 50B per person). From Pailin it is possible to get to Battambang (200B, 2½ hours) by share taxi on a real joke of a road. Run this route in reverse to exit Cambodia; prices should be the same with a bit of bargaining here and there.

There is another remote border at Kamrieng–Daun Lem in Battambang Province, but it is really just an outpost with a casino catering to Thai gamblers and not very accessible from the Cambodian side.

There is also a border at Prasat Preah Vihear , the stunning Cambodian temple perched atop the Dangkrek mountains. This is currently just a day crossing for tourists wanting to visit the temple from the Thai side, but it may be upgraded to a full international crossing during the next few years.

Vietnam

Cambodia and Vietnam share a long frontier with a bevy of border crossings. Foreigners are currently permitted to cross at eight places and there are new crossings opening all the time. Cambodian visas are now available at all crossings. Vietnamese visas should be arranged in advance, as they are not available on arrival. Luckily, Cambodia is the easiest place in the world to pick up Vietnamese visas. It is no longer necessary to stipulate your exact point of entry and exit on the Vietnam visa, or the exact date of arrival, making for the sort of carefree travel overlanders prefer.

Bavet–moc bai

The original land crossing between Vietnam and Cambodia has seen steady traffic for more than a decade. The trip by bus between Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City takes about five to six hours, including the border crossing. There are now several companies offering direct services with no need to change buses. Choose from Capitol Transport, GST, Mai Linh, Mekong Express, Neak Krohorm and Phnom Penh Sorya Transport. All charge between US$9 and US$12.

Kaam samnor–vinh xuong

Cambodia and Vietnam opened their border on the Mekong back in 2000 and it is now very popular with independent travellers. It is a far more interesting trip than taking the road, as it involves a fast boat on the Mekong in Cambodia and travel along some very picturesque areas of the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. Coming from Ho Chi Minh City, it is possible to book a cheap Mekong Delta tour through to Chau Doc and then make your own way from there.

Adventurous travellers like to plot their own course. Leaving Cambodia, take a bus from Psar Thmei in Phnom Penh to Neak Luong (4500r, 1½ hours, regular departures) then jump off the bus on the west bank of the Mekong (don’t take the ferry across the river!) and ask around for outboards to Kaam Samnor (one hour). They depart from a small pier about 300m south of the ferry. It costs US$20 to charter the whole boat, but those with a little time on their hands can wait until it fills with locals and pay 16, 000r (US$4) for a place. The border posts at Kaam Samnor are some way apart so hire a moto (US$1) to carry you from building to building to deal with the lengthy bureaucracy. There are separate offices for immigration and customs on both sides of the border, so it can end up taking as much as an hour to navigate. Luggage has to be x-rayed on the Vietnamese side of the border! Once officially in Vietnam at the village of Vinh Xuong, catch a minibus to Chau Doc (US$2, one hour). From Chau Doc, there are frequent buses to Cantho and Ho Chi Minh City. Those entering Cambodia via Vinh Xuong can just run the aforementioned route in reverse.

There are several boat companies offering direct services between Phnom Penh and Chau Doc. The more upmarket Blue Cruiser (016 824343; 93 Sisowath Quay; US$35) departs Chau Doc at 8.30am and Phnom Penh at 1.30pm. Hang Chau (012 883542; US$16) pulls out from Chau Doc at 9am and departs Phnom Penh’s tourist boat dock at 12 noon. Both take about three hours or so. Victoria Hotels (www.victoriahotels-asia.com; US$80) also has a boat making several runs a week between Phnom Penh and its luxury Victoria Chau Doc Hotel.

Lastly, there are two companies offering luxury cruises between Ho Chi Minh City and Siem Reap via the Kaam Samnor-Vinh Xuong border crossing. International player Pandaw Cruises (www.pandaw.com) is an expensive option favoured by high-end tour companies. Cambodian company Toum Teav Cruises (www.cf-mekong.com) is smaller and is well regarded for its personal service and excellent food.

Other crossings

It’s open season when it comes to border crossings between Cambodia and Vietnam, but many are a little out of the way for the average traveller. There are rumours that a ferry may soon link Kep or Kampot with Vietnam’s Phu Quoc island.

The newly opened Prek Chak–Xa Xia crossing has been long anticipated, connecting Kep and Kampot with the Mekong Delta town of Ha Tien. This also offers the prospect of linking the Cambodian coast with the beautiful Vietnamese island of Phu Quoc, formerly the Cambodian island of Koh Tral. As this is a fairly new crossing there is still little in the way of regular transport, but expect bus services to start at some stage. For now, it is possible to take a moto from Kompong Trach (US$3), Kep (US$6) or Kampot (US$9) to the border, cross into Vietnam and take a xe om (moto) to Ha Tien (US$2). It is also possible to charter a taxi from Kampot (US$40), Kep (US$30) and Kompong Trach (US$20) to the border.

The Phnom Den–Tinh Bien crossing has been open for some time now, but is rarely used as most travellers prefer the Mekong crossing at Kaam Samnor or the new Prek Chak crossing to the south. It lies about 60km southeast of Takeo town in Cambodia and offers connections to Chau Doc. A seat in a share taxi will cost about 6000r from Takeo to the border.

There is a new border crossing in Ratanakiri province at O’Yadaw–Le Tanh, offering connections between Banlung and Pleiku, in Vietnam’s central highlands. NH19 from Banlung to the O’Yadaw border (five hours) is still in a shameful state, so it may be some time before this border sees regular traffic. Ask around in Banlung or Pleiku about charters or try your luck with a combination of pick-ups and motos.

There are a cluster of border crossings in the east of Cambodia that connect obscure towns and are not really on the radar. The Trapaeng Phlong–Xa Mat and Trapaeng Sre–Loc Ninh crossings are both off NH7 and the Xa Mat crossing could be useful for those planning to visit the Cao Dai temple travelling to or from Ho Chi Minh City. Once the roads are all upgraded, this will probably be the favoured route for direct traffic between Siem Reap and Ho Chi Minh City. The Banteay Chakrey–Dong Thap crossing is really out of the way and sees almost no foreign travellers.

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Entering the destination

Entering the country

Cambodia has two international gateways for arrival by air, Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, and a healthy selection of land borders with neighbouring Thailand, Vietnam and Laos. Formalities at Cambodia’s international airports are traditionally smoother than at land borders, as the volume of traffic is greater. Crossing at land borders is relatively easy, but immigration officers may try to wangle some extra cash, either for your visa or via some other scam. Stand your ground. Anyone without a photo for their visa form will be charged about US$1 at the airport, and as much as 100B at land borders with Thailand.

Arrival by air is popular for those on a short holiday in Cambodia, as travelling overland to or from Cambodia puts a significant dent in your time in the country. Travellers on longer trips usually enter and exit by land, as road and river transport is very reasonable in Cambodia.

From Australia

The best place to look for cheap fares is in the travel sections of weekend newspapers, such as the Age in Melbourne and the Sydney Morning Herald. There are good connections between major Australian cities and both Thailand and Vietnam. Elsewhere, you’ll need to connect through a regional hub.

Two well-known agencies for cheap fares:

Flight Centre (133 133 using local area code; www.flightcentre.com.au) Offices throughout Australia.

STA Travel (1300 733 035 Australia-wide; www.statravel.com.au) Has offices in all major cities and on many university campuses.

From Canada

It is cheaper to fly from the west coast than it is to fly from the east. Canadian air fares tend to be higher than those sold in the USA. The Globe & Mail, the Toronto Star, the Montreal Gazette and the Vancouver Sun carry travel agency ads and are good places to look for good value fares. Travel CUTS (www.travelcuts.com) is Canada’s national student travel agency and has offices in all major cities.

From Continental Europe

Although London is the discount-travel capital of Europe, major airlines and big travel agents usually have offers from all the major cities on the continent.

Recommended agents with branches across France:

Nouvelles Frontières (08 25 00 07 47; ­www.nouvelles-frontieres.fr)

OTU Voyages (www.otu.fr) This agency specialises in student and youth travel.

Voyageurs du Monde (01 40 15 11 15; ­www.vdm.com)

Reliable agencies in Germany:

Just Travel (089-747 33 30; www.justtravel.de)

STA Travel (0180-545 64 22; www.statravel.de)

From other countries in Europe, try the following agencies:

Airfair (0206-20 51 21; www.airfair.nl; Netherlands)

Barcelo Viajes (902 11 62 26; www.barceloviajes.com; Spain)

CTS Viaggi (064 62 04 31; www.cts.it; Italy)

NBBS Reizen (0900 1020 300; www.nbbs.nl; Netherlands)

Nouvelles Frontières (902 17 09 79; www.nouvelles-frontieres.es; Spain)

SSR Voyages (058 450 4020; www.ssr.ch; Switzerland)

From New Zealand

National newspaper the New Zealand Herald (www.nzherald.co.nz) has a helpful travel section. Flight Centre (0800 243 544; www.­flightcentre.co.nz) has a large central office in Auckland and many branches throughout the country. STA Travel (0508 782 872; www.statravel.co.nz) has offices in Auckland and other major centres in New Zealand.

From the UK

Advertisements for many travel agencies appear in the travel pages of the weekend broadsheets, such as the Independent and the Sunday Times.

Popular travel agencies in the UK include:

Flightbookers (087-0010 7000; www.ebookers.com)

North-South Travel (01245-608291; www.northsouthtravel.co.uk) North-South Travel donates part of its profit to projects in the developing world.

STA Travel (087-0160 0599; www.statravel.co.uk)

Trailfinders (084-5050 5891; www.trailfinders.co.uk)

Travel Bag (087-0890 1456; www.travelbag.co.uk)

From the USA

Ticket promotions frequently connect Asia to San Francisco and Los Angeles, New York and other big cities. The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and the San Francisco Examiner all produce weekly travel sections in which you will find a number of travel agency ads and fare promos.

Useful online options in the USA:

www.cheaptickets.com

www.itn.net

www.lowestfare.com

www.sta.com

www.travelocity.com

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Tours

In the early days of tourism in Cambodia, organised tours were a near necessity. The situation has changed dramatically and it is now much easier to organise your own trip. Budget and midrange travellers in particular can go it alone, as arrangements are cheap and easy on the ground. If you are on a tight schedule, it can pay to book a domestic flight in advance if planning to link the temples of Angkor and Siem Reap with Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh. Once at Angkor, guides and all forms of transport under the sun are plentiful.

Shop around before booking a tour, as there is lots of competition and some companies offer more interesting itineraries than others. There are also several good companies based in Cambodia that are trying to put a little something back into the country.

Australia

Adventure World (02-8913 0755; www.adventureworld.com.au) Offers adventure tours of Cambodia, as well as neighbouring Vietnam and Laos.

Intrepid Travel (1300 360 667; www.intrepidtravel.com.au) Small group tours for all budgets with an environmental, social and cultural edge.

Peregrine (02-9290 2770; www.peregrine.net.au) Small group and private tours supporting responsible tourism.

Cambodia

About Asia (855-92 121059; www.asiatravel-cambodia.com) Small bespoke travel company specialising in Siem Reap and Cambodia with a growing reputation. Profits going to build schools in Cambodia.

Cambodia Expeditions (855-12 583759; www.cambodiaexpeditions.com) Adventurous outfit promoting motorbike tours, expeditions and trekking tours.

Hanuman Tourism (855-23 218396; www.hanumantourism.com) Long-running locally-owned, locally-operated company with innovative tours like Temple Safari. Runs a charitable foundation to build bridges between tourists and worthy causes.

Journeys Within (855-63 964748; www.journeys-within.com) A boutique tourism company offering trips to Cambodia and the Mekong region. Operates a small boutique hotel in Siem Reap and has a charitable arm helping schools and communities.

Local Adventures (855-23 990460; www.cambodia.nl) Cambodian-based company specialising in off-the-beaten path tours to the less visited regions of the country. Assists Cambodian children through the Cambodian Organisation for Learning and Training ­ (www.colt-cambodia.org).

Pepy Ride (855-23 222804; www.pepyride.org) Specialist cycling company that runs adventurous bike rides through Cambodia to raise funds to build schools and improve education. Also offers noncycling trips.

Sam Veasna Centre (855-63 761597; www.samveasna.org) Established ecotourism operator specialising in bird-watching tours around Cambodia, including Ang Trapeang Thmor and Ttamboey. Supports conservation and education.

France

Compagnie des Indes & Orients (01-5363-3340; www.compagniesdumonde.com) Offers organised tours covering more of Cambodia than most.

Intermedes (01-4561-9090; www.intermedes.com) Offers specialised private tours.

La Route des Indes (01-4260-6090; www.laroutedesindes.com) High-end tours with an academic edge.

UK

Audley Travel (01604-234855; www.audleytravel.com) Popular tailor-made specialist covering Cambodia.

Carpe Diem (0845-2262198; www.carpe-diem-travel.com) Not-for-profit travel company specialising in original adventures in Cambodia and Laos.

Cox & Kings (020-7873-5000; www.coxandkings.co.uk) Well-established high-end company, strong on cultural tours.

Explore (01252-760100; www.exploreworldwide.com) Small-group adventure travel company.

Hands Up Holidays (0776-501 3631; www.handsupholidays.com) A popular company bringing guests closer to the people of Cambodia through its responsible holidays with a spot of volunteering.

Mekong Travel (01494-674456; www.mekong-travel.com) A name to inspire confidence in the Mekong region.

Symbiosis (020-7924 5906; www.symbiosis-travel.com) Small bespoke travel company with an emphasis on cycling and diving.

Selective Asia (0845-370 3344; www.selectiveasia.com) New company that cherry-picks the best trips from leading local agents.

Wild Frontiers (020-7376 3968; www.wildfrontiers.co.uk) Adventure specialist with themed tours and innovative adventures.

USA

Asia Transpacific Journeys (800-642 2742, www.asiatranspacific.com) Group tours and tailor-made trips across the Asia-Pacific region.

Distant Horizons (800-333 1240; www.distant-horizons.com) Educational tours for discerning travellers.

Geographic Expeditions (800-777 8183; www.geoex.com) Well-established high-end adventure travel company.

Global Adrenaline (800-825 1680) Luxury adventures for the experienced traveller.

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Air

Airports & airlines

Phnom Penh International Airport (PNH; 023-890520; www.cambodia-airports.com/phnompenh/en) is the gateway to the Cambodian capital, while Siem Reap International Airport (REP; 063-380283; www.cambodia-airports.com/siemreap/en) serves visitors to the temples of Angkor. Both airports have a good range of services, including restaurants, bars, shops and ATMs.

Flights to Cambodia are quite limited and most connect only as far as regional capitals. However, budget airlines have taken off in recent years and are steadily driving down prices. Bangkok offers the most connections to Cambodia, and it is usually possible to get on a flight with any of the airlines at short notice, although flying Bangkok Airways to Siem Reap can get very busy from November to March.

If you are heading to Cambodia for a short holiday and want a minimum of fuss, Thai Airways offers the easiest connections from major cities in Europe, the USA and Australia. Singapore Airlines’ regional wing, Silk Air, is another good option, with at least one flight a day connecting Cambodia to Singapore. Other regional centres with flights to Cambodia are Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Hanoi, Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Pakse, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, Taipei, Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Shanghai.

Airlines in Cambodia tend to open up and close down regularly. This means that those who have the choice should enter the country on an international carrier rather than a local outfit.

Some airlines offer open-jaw tickets into Phnom Penh and out of Siem Reap, which can save some time and money. The following telephone numbers are for Phnom Penh offices (023).

Airlines flying to/from cambodia

Air Asia (AK; 356011; www.airasia.com; hub Kuala Lumpur) Daily budget flights connecting Phnom Penh and Siem Reap to Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok.

Angkor Airways (G6; 222056; www.angkorairways.com; hub Phnom Penh) Regular connections from Phnom Penh and Siem Reap to Taipei.

Asiana Airlines (OZ; 890440; www.asiana.co.kr; hub Seoul) Regular connections between Phnom Penh and Seoul.

Bangkok Airways (PG; 722545; www.bangkokair.com; hub Bangkok) Daily connections from Phnom Penh and Siem Reap to Bangkok.

China Eastern Airlines (MU; 063-965229; www.ce-air.com; hub Shanghai) Regular flights from Siem Reap to Kunming.

China Southern Airlines (CZ; 430877; www.cs-air.com; hub Guangzhou) Regular flights from Phnom Penh to Guangzhou.

Dragon Air (KA; 424300; www.dragonair.com; hub Hong Kong) Daily flights between Phnom Penh and Hong Kong.

Eva Air (BR; 219911; www.evaair.com; hub Taipei) Daily flights between Phnom Penh and Taipei.

Jetstar Asia (3K; 220909; www.jetstarasia.com; hub Singapore) Daily budget flights from Phnom Penh and Siem Reap to Singapore.

Lao Airlines (QV; 216563; www.laoairlines.com; hub Vientiane) Regular flights from Phnom Penh and Siem Reap to both Pakse and Vientiane.

Malaysia Airlines (MY; 426688; www.malaysiaairlines.com; hub Kuala Lumpur) Daily connections from Phnom Penh and Siem Reap to Kuala Lumpur.

PMT Air (U4; 221379; www.pmtair.com; hub Phnom Penh) Regular flights from Siem Reap to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Shanghai Airlines (FM; 723999; www.shanghai-air.com; hub Shanghai) Regular flights linking Phnom Penh with Shanghai.

Siem Reap Airways (FT; 720022; www.siemreapairways.com; hub Phnom Penh) Regular ­connections from Phnom Penh and Siem Reap to Hong Kong. High season flights connect Luang Prabang and Siem Reap.

Silk Air (MI; 426807; www.silkair.com; hub Singapore) Daily flights linking Phnom Penh and Siem Reap with Singapore.

Thai Airways (TG; 214359; www.thaiair.com; hub Bangkok) Daily flights connecting Phnom Penh and Bangkok.

Vietnam Airlines (VN; 363396; www.vietnamair.com.vn; hub HCMC) Daily flights linking both Phnom Penh & Siem Reap with both Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City, as well as Phnom Penh with Vientiane & Siem Reap with Luang Prabang.

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